February’s Waste Thoughts – 2023

Full notes below, quick summary:

  • Reclaim Our Sea – how waste products of years of industry may be the cause of sea life die off around our coasts
  • Upcycling – should we do something to mark Upcycling day?
  • Our Waste Our Resources – promised progress on key government waste initiatives.
  • Church recycling – Swainby Church continues to increase items which can be left of recycling, model for other buildings open to the public?
  • Recycling everything – Guardian article tackled some of the harder to recycle items, giving useful information on what / where to recycle.
  • Communication– you can let Kate know of any events or other items that you would like all CASaV members to aware of either in the monthly update or via social media.
  • Glass frames – you can get glasses in previously loved frames.
  • Surplus food – Coop Food Share now collected 7 days a week, volunteers needed for backup
  • Repair Cafes – next cafes in Swainby 18th March and Stokesley 1st April – over 50 items dealt with on 10th February


If you have just signed up to the Waste Group, then welcome, I hope these notes of our discussion make sense.

We meet once a month to talk about topics connected to waste and plan / report progress on our ongoing activities such as the Repair Cafes, Foodshare, Refill scheme and upcoming events such as the Bilsdale Show.  If you visit the “Thoughts on Waste” page on the CASaV website you can find all our past discussions – https://climateactionstokesleyandvillages.org/waste/thoughts-on-waste/

Please get in touch if you have any questions.

Notes form 7th February 2023 CASaV Waste Group Meeting


Apologies: Anne, Pete and Joy
Reclaim Our Sea: Crab die-off, DEFRA, Teesworks, River Tees
Matters arising
Recent online / physical meetings

Reclaim Our Sea

Reclaim our Sea is a campaign launched after the first mass die-off of crustacea around our local coasts in October 2021 to pressure for the restoration of our sea to its natural condition – background Channel 4 segment.

Local fisherman and marine activists believed that the die-off had been caused by increased dredging of the River Tees. In 2022 a DEFRA led enquiry report stated, despite having found high levels of pyridine (a by-product of coke making and widely used by historical industry on the River Tees) in dead crabs, that the die-off was unrelated to dredging and in fact caused by a “natural” algal bloom.

In late 2022 the Parliamentary all-party Environment Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) committee held a hearing into the cause of the crab die-off, partly as crowd funded research from the universities of Newcastle, Hull, Durham and York, had shown that not only was pyridine toxic to crabs but it was also present in both the River Tees sediment and seabed sediment from the area where dredged material is dumped. The EFRA committee asked DEFRA to launch an independent inquiry to reinvestigate the cause of the crab die-off.

In January 2023 the DEFRA Independent Enquiry report ruled out algal bloom, pyridine or any kind of chemical contamination and said that it was as likely as not to have been caused by an undetected / unidentified novel pathogen. DEFRA has now stated that as there is no evidence of a novel pathogen, they do not feel it is worthwhile investigating what the pathogen might be. However, this could be seen as there is no longer any commercial danger to the Teesside Freeport, as they have ruled out anything that might threaten dredging in the Tees, they are no longer interested. It is still surprising bearing in mind we have been through a pandemic that DEFRA tasked with protecting our environment has no interest in identifying a pathogen that has already caused at least on mass die off event.

Why is dredging in the Tees so important? The River Tees has historically been one of the most polluted rivers in the UK, so it is known that its sediment is highly toxic, such that a 1999 Environment Agency report, stated that no new areas of the Tees should be dredged. However, in the River Tees what is called maintenance dredging has been going on for decades in order to keep the shipping channels free, in theory the dredging is only removing sediment washed down the river and sand brought in by the sea, so there should be no toxic materials associated with the dredged material. However, as the testing has shown this is not always the case and it turns out in October 2021 there was a landslip in the river bed, which would have resulted in historical sediment being dredged. The official testing of the dredged material only happens every 3 years, so unless there is continuous dredging of contaminated material, official testing will not detect short but possibly devastating contamination event. The landslip could have been the cause of the crab die-off or another source of contamination could have been either being carried out of the Tees or depositing on sediment which was being dumped at sea.

There is a another form of dredging, called capital dredging, where new areas of a river are dredged or existing areas are dredged to a greater depth for new development. Currently on the River Tees, the development of Teesworks is resulting in over 2million cubic metres of capital dredging around the most contaminated brownfield site in the UK, South Tees. Teesworks capital dredging only started in 2022, so could not be the cause of the die-off. However in September 2021 work was well underway removing existing structures from the site, explosive demolition and removal of materials known to be highly toxic to aquatic life. One of the major factors that makes the site so contaminated is the fact that it has been the home to generations of coke works, which continuously produce coal tar as a by-product. It is this which is responsible for South Tees as being classified a major accident risk by the Health and Safety executive (South Tees Site COMAH Status). Pyridine is only of the chemicals within coal tar. So did explosive demolition cause a fissure in the ground releasing coal tar with pyridine into the river. It is not reassuring that the Teesworks operations do not have a good safety work with demolition having resulted in 2 workers dying in 2019 and a further worker having to smash his way out of a submerged excavator that fell into the Tees.

Teesworks has stated it is remediating the South Tees site, however this is really very light remediation, basically just capping the contaminated ground so that it is possible to develop the land. Unfortunately whatever contamination exists underground remains in the ground, meaning that future generations will have a toxic legacy both known and unknown.

The concern is that Teesworks has promised a lot of development for a relatively small amount of money in a short time scale – rarely is it possible to deliver something safely quickly and cheaply, without having to cut corners. Teesworks has also taken the decision to pre-develop the entire site rather than focus all work on only the areas for which uses been identified. All major structures largely demolished by explosive demolition followed by recovery of scrap metal and collecting all other material either for reuse on site or for landfilling on site. Locally many are upset as in contradiction of the South Tees Development Masterplan published in 2017/19, the key heritage structures have been demolished, no nature benefits have so far been delivered, and recently an area of woodland has been destroyed as pre-work for a site wide park and ride scheme.

Not only, as noted above, is the process more redevelopment than remediation – with toxic ground capped with clean material, but also all excavated material despite having been dumped has been classified as non-waste – due to being pre-1984. This makes a pretty poor comparison of the standard of remediation versus other contaminated sites – i.e. The Avenue in Chesterfield highlighted by the government as how to do brownfield development, partly differences are due to end use industry vs houses – but this ignores that South Tees site will continue to require long term caution/monitoring vs The Avenue being just ground.

Dredging is being carried out with no measures to reduce spread of contaminated into the river or sea, no cofferdams, no booms, no silt curtains, no monitoring just rely on volume of River Tees to keep contaminants below dangerous concentrations. An extra 200,000m3 is to be dumped at sea from the riverbank, this is not material from the river, but from the land that is being removed to move the South Bank Quay inland. Currently >1,000,000m3 will be disposed of off Redcar in the next month.

It is surprising (unbelievable) that while South Tees Site was stated in the compulsory purchase order proceedings to be the most contaminated brownfield site in UK/Europe, it requires little extra expense aside from capping to redevelop safely. I think this is because at least one serious source of contamination was not even considered.

Dense non-aqueous phase liquids (DNAPLs) are heavy liquid composed mainly of hydrocarbons, so coal tar, PCBs, PAHs, forever chemicals that sink to the lowest level in a watercourse rather than be carried in the water flow and so are not dispersed. They are particularly relevant to the South Tees site, as they concentrate at the lowest impermeable point underground, so they will travel through the 2-8m of made ground (fist sized lumps of slag) that make up the site and will be trapped by the underlying impermeable geology. As DNAPLs are localised and don’t travel in the water course, unless disturbed, they only show up in site chemical testing data if directly sampled. So even if many boreholes are made on the site and only 1 of them shows the presence of DNAPLs, this does not mean the rest of the site is free of DNAPLs, simply that they have been missed. So history of the site usage should have been used to drive remediation and set the minimum level of remediation to safely decontaminate or redevelop a site. This has not been the case with Teesworks, where DNAPLs were specifically ignored and the necessary remediation strategies for DNAPLs were even considered. For DNAPLs 3 approaches are able to provide a safe site for future developments without endangering the environment – 1/ remove all the ground and clean it (c.f. The Avenue), 2/ inject cleaning/chemical oxidation solution into the ground and extract from drilled well holes around the edge of the site – this takes years and extraction is continued even when the site is in use, 3/ combined with capping excavate around the entire site and create an impermeable barrier between ground level and the impermeable underlying strata, and monitor to ensure barrier remains impermeable – effectively 3D capping. Only option 1 was considered and discarded as too expensive / energy intensive, the option of capping with treatment of found contamination being followed is not appropriate for DNAPLs as DNAPLs will continue to slowly contaminate the surrounding areas and any future development may cause catastrophic release of DNAPLs.

One specific request from the EFRA committee to DEFRA was that the dredging should be paused until investigations were undertaken to measure how contaminated the river Tees is in order to allow appropriate action to be taken to minimise the potential for environment damage caused by accelerating development of the river. This request has been explicitly rejected by Therese Coffey.
Action: All sign the petition to request that dredging is paused while investigations are carried out to determine the current level of contamination of the River Tees. https://www.change.org/p/pause-investigate-tees-dredge


In 2015, GumTree along with others pressed for June 24th to become a National / Global Upcycling day https://digitalnewsroom.media/gumtree/nationalupcyclingday/ and so in 2023 this will be upcycling day https://www.daysoftheyear.com/days/upcycling-day/. What can we do to encourage upcycling or should we hold an event on that day?

There is also global recycling day on 18th March https://www.letsrecycle.com/news/creative-innovation-theme-for-global-recycling-day-2023/ and a recycling week 17th – 23rd October https://www.twinkl.co.uk/event/recycle-week-2023.


Following on the 2018 “Our Waste Our Resources” the government is slowly moving forward the initiatives it identified.

The Deposit Repair Scheme (DRS) for drinks containers moves a step closers with a date of implementation final set (will it change again?), when reverse vending machines at designated sites will be in place across England, Wales and Northern Island, as a scheme starts in Scotland in August 2023
Basically a new cash incentive system, placing deposits on drinks bottles and cans, will boost recycling from 2025, England uses 14billion drink bottles / 9 billion drink cans, 83% of people surveyed want DRS. Currently 75% recycled, target after DRS is 85%, Germany/Norway/Finland currently >90%.

Single use plastics: The UK government announced that a ban on single-use plastic plates, trays, bowls, cutlery, balloon sticks, expanded and extruded polystyrene food and drinks containers, including cups, will be introduced in England from October 2023. Meanwhile, the single-use plastic carrier bag charge has successfully cut sales by over 97% in the main supermarkets.

A further initiative is Extended Producer Responsibility https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/packaging-and-packaging-waste-introducing-extended-producer-responsibility
The Extended Producer Responsibility scheme will mean packaging producers will be expected to cover the cost of recycling and disposing of their packaging.
The reforms will implement Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for packaging from 2024. It will focus on producer payments for managing household packaging waste and packaging in street bins managed by local authorities and will appoint a scheme administrator to oversee this system. DEFRA will continue [for the time being] with the Packaging Waste Recycling Note System in parallel, to demonstrate recycling obligations have been met. Defra and the devolved administrations will continue to work with industry groups to explore payment options for commercially-collected packaging waste, and will establish a task force to develop the evidence and undertake analysis of options. This will inform a review of EPR in 2026 to 2027.
The final initiative is Consistent Recycling Collections which seems to have stalled https://www.gov.uk/government/news/landmark-reforms-to-boost-recycling-and-fight-plastic-pollution
Plans for Consistent Recycling Collections for every household and business in England will ensure more plastic is recycled. Last statement appears to have been 24th March 2021 “The third of our major reforms, will see the introduction of consistent recycling collections for all households and businesses in England. This will also be going out to consultation shortly.”


Recycling at the back of Swainby Church – toothbrushes, blister packs (feed into Globe). Great to make use of open buildings / plus make people think about things. Also restarted food bank – people using despite alternative facilities – taking food to Sue Reid.
Reuse – sofas – company in Middlesbrough will redo springs – advice on how to increase longevity of cushions – person be able to tell use how to extend life, turn filling over to give uniform wear, how to add extra filling.

10-18th June Great Big Green Week – whole CASaV activity around reuse?


Where to recycle: Boots does recycling for used toothpaste tubes / make-up (lipstick, eyeliner,….) – recycle Boots own products – Boots puts points on your Advantage card. https://www.boots.com/shopping/boots-recycling-scheme/how-to-recycle-at-boots
Guardian Recycling Article offers a sensible approach to trying to recycle as much as possible
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/feb/07/stop-wishcycling-and-get-wise-how-to-recycle-almost-everything and where it hasn’t got the answers it point you to the Recycle Now website – https://www.recyclenow.com/
A number of optician including Boots will send unwanted prescription glasses for reuse for somebody else in developing countries, while not perfect prescription matching a lot better than no glasses at all.

Communication – regularly posting on the CASaV Instagram and preparing the monthly update – any things for the whole CASaV – email Kate at least
10 days before monthly CASaV meeting.
Jane Mercer part of the SaVRepairCafe sewing team runs darning masterclasses at Ripping Yarns in Stokesley – https://rippingyarns.co/ – also a general clothes mending classes, all great to help you reduce by letting your clothes last longer.


Smell of gas at end of lane, it turns out there are multiple leaks, but the engineer is only allowed to fix one leak on each visit. All gas pipes leak! Great Ayton is suffering as Zoomin fibre broadband installation has broken a number of gas pipes during work.

Sustainable glasses frames – peep – recycle frames – they will send you 3 frames to try then fit prescription to the frames you like – https://peepeyewear.co.uk

Surplus Coop food is now being collected and distributed 7 days a week, but need some extra volunteers to at least provide back-up for the regular collectors.
As the Springfield Coop closes earlier than the other Coops on Sunday, Eileen picks up from big Coop and takes to the small Coop so that it can all be collected at the small Coop closing time.
Action: All – any volunteers willing to act as backup to collect food and take to where needed at 9pm. Please email climateactionsav@gmail.com


Collecting plastic bottle tops where? Stokesley Funeral Parlour is still collecting explicitly plastic milk bottle tops and online this group collect – https://fowsart.org.uk/pages/milk-bottle-tops-and-milk-bottle-collection

Selling lemonade in glass bottles which will be reused – refilled in Ireland.

Reuse – not supposed to reuse egg cartons – could it be sprayed to disinfected from salmonella? Alternatively good for chitting potatoes etc.. Carpet cardboard inner tubes are reused but not sure how much – bulky to store.

Where are local places that offer “Refill” – where – Roots / Tindalls / Farmer’s Market – rape seed oil / Guisborough – What Planet are You On, Health Food Shop

Recycling – found crackers that are supplied in paper packaging, yet same company makes other crackers in plastic box inside cardboard box why?

Having noted that store lighting is often left on, for example Sainburys lights always on – why can’t they be off, Coop are doing a far better job having completely switched to LEDs, installed PIRs to switch off lights when nobody present, and ensuring freezers are switched off when not needed.

Actions from last meeting

Matters arising

11th February Stokesley Repair Cafe

Over 50 items examined and at least that many people visited.

Next Repair Cafes are 10am-12pm 18th March Swainby Village and then 1st April the Globe in Stokesley – all details on the Stokesley and Villages Repair Cafe page.

Recent online / physical meetings


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